The death of Neil Armstrong last weekend takes from our midst not just a man of historical significance, but a man of character in an age when there is too little of that quality. It also removes from us a modest man.
Neil Armstrong was not a self-promoter. Most of the speeches he made were unpaid and for NASA. He didn't sell space memorabilia, like his colleague Buzz Aldrin does. He wasn't interested in fame. He simply did his job and thought nothing remarkable about that.
This attitude was more widely shared by the World War II generation, but in our day when self-promotion is the norm, it is in short supply.
I had the privilege of knowing many of the original astronauts when I was a young reporter at a Houston TV station. These really were men with the "right stuff," as Tom Wolfe famously labeled them.
It's too bad we don't teach and model more of their qualities today. Instead we model their opposite and are shocked at the predictable result. Neil Armstrong will be remembered as long as humans exist. He was the first man on the moon. And he inspired a generation and his country.
In Tampa, I'm Cal Thomas.
Publication date: August 28, 2012